Old Town Hall clock and bell tower
Old Town Hall clock and bell tower

Text by Marko Östman
Published originally in Rauma-magazine 1/2024

The restoration of Rauma’s Old Town Hall will also include the restoration of the tower bell and clock faces. Church tower technician Supavit Nummelin will set all four bell plates to always display the same time, while restoring the bell to its original function.

In the heart of Old Rauma, at the edge of the market square, the four-way clocks in the Town Hall have told the time for generations. Together with the bells in the church tower, they have even served as the only source of time for some.

The clock tower of the Town Hall, completed in 1776, was purchased in Stockholm at a cost of 4,000 peacocks. The oldest clock faces had only one long hand, but with the acquisition of clock machinery in the 1880s, minute hands were added.

Although the dials tell the time to this day, a chiming bell that used to play on the hour has not been in use for years. The restoration of the Town Hall, which will start in March 2023, will include the restoration of both the bell and the dials. Supavit Nummelin, a church tower technician, will be in charge of the work.

– The bell machinery will be replaced and a magnetic hammer will be installed in the hour bell, which will be connected to the time clock machinery. At the same time, the bell will be returned to its original swinging function,” says Nummelin.

– The clocks originally had mechanical mechanisms, which are now powered by electricity. Now, in the original way, we connect each dial on four axes to a central power-steering motor in the middle. In this way, the clocks always display the same time.

A rare equinox clock

There are only a few church tower technicians in Finland. Despite his young age, 25-year-old Nummelin is an experienced and respected professional in his field. He works not only at home but also abroad.

In the near future, Nummelin will be able to admire the UNESCO World Heritage site from the heights. In addition to Old Rauma, he is also familiar with other historical sites. His career began at the age of 15 in the bell tower of Uspenski Cathedral.

– It is a great honour to work on the bells of Rauma Town Hall. It is a historically significant site and a very rare clock in Finland, where a physical bell gives the time signal,” says Nummelin.

Secrets of the trade from masters to apprentices

Nummelin has a vocational qualification in woodworking and metalworking, and is a trained woodworking craftsman. Nummelin trained as a church tower technician in Germany.
The apprenticeship system is largely based on the master and apprentice principle.

– I have been studying for seven years now and have only scratched the surface. I have learned a lot in the company of more experienced people, and there is always something new to learn. I have to master metal and woodworking, welding, machining, electronics and electricity, as well as music and history,” says Nummelin.

The profession of church tower technician requires not only versatile skills but also creativity and muscle power. For example, the bell in Rauma Town Hall weighs about 95 kilos.

– Each bell has its own voice. In my job, every day and every encounter is different. I get to see the world and historical sites.

A good way to go back in time

The most memorable sites from my career so far are the Uspenski Cathedral, mentioned earlier, and the Tikkurila tower bell tower, which has the largest number of church bells in Finland. Nummelin has also visited the tower of the Church of the Holy Cross in Rauma and played the church organ.

– Rauma Town Hall is now going back in time in a good way, using modern technology. When the hour bell can be rung again to mark the equinox, it will be part of a national historical tradition.

The old Town Hall is to be reopened to the public on the 250th anniversary of the building’s construction in 2026.

You may also be interested in